Little Terrors: Kids' Stories Aren't Afraid of the Dark

Augustus Gloop's fall into a chocolate river is one scary scene in the new
Augustus Gloop's fall into a chocolate river is one scary scene in the new "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." (By Peter Mountain -- Warner Bros. Via Reuters)
By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 16, 2005

A bedtime story:

Night is falling, darling child, the curtains flutter. I have a tale to tell. Hurry, hop into bed, come close.

Once upon a time, I killed your parents.

Yes, yes, I know -- I liked them too -- but it had to be done. I burned them alive. Or perhaps I shot them dead; I can't recall, for I tell stories, and I have murdered so many.

Or perhaps they were only inattentive. This allowed me to kidnap you to a strange and dangerous place where -- there's no other way to say this -- grown-ups or wolves or beasts with no names want to rip you limb from limb.

Do you like this story? Shall I go on?

Yes, you shout? Please, you say?

Good girl!

A moment, and we will go out the window and across the field to the edge of the forest, you and I.

Ah, summer. The glory of childhood, its angelic idyll. Let's consider three massively popular tales out this week that impressionable young children can't get enough of:

In "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," we are reminded that Harry's parents were murdered, an evil wizard is trying to kill him and a principal character will die in this volume.

The first printing is 10.8 million copies, a U.S. record.

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